January 28, 2023

Don Quixote de la Mancha: Knight of the Rueful Countenance and Knight of the Lions

The title character of the novel, Don Quixote is a gaunt, middle-aged gentleman who, having gone mad from reading too many books about chivalrous knights, determines to set off on a great adventure to win honor and glory in the name of his invented ladylove, Dulcinea. Don Quixote longs for a sense of purpose and beauty—two things he believes the world lacks—and hopes to bring order to a tumultuous world by reinstating the chivalric code of the knights-errant. Initially, Don Quixote’s good intentions do only harm to those he meets, since he is largely unable to see the world as it really is.

Don Quixote, “A country gentleman . . . who bordered upon fifty, was of a rough constitution, extremely meager and hardfeatured, an early riser . . . and addicted to reading of books of chivalry.” I, i, 1; DQ I, 1

Don Quixote - Knight of the Rueful Countenance
Don Quixote – Knight of the Rueful Countenance
Don Quixote Novel

Quixote is a middle-aged gentleman who has gone mad from reading…

He is a tall, meager, long-legged, [lantern]-jawed, stalking figure; his hair inclining to gray; his nose hooked and aquiline, with long, straight black mustachios. II, i, 14; DQ II, 14

[His] tall stature . . . [the] sepulchral meagerness of his aspect, his solemn gravity, the strangeness of his armor, all together [formed] such a composition as perhaps had never been seen in that country. II, i, 16; DQ II, 16 The redresser of grievances, the righter of wrongs, the protector of damsels, the terror of giants, and [the] thunderbolt of war. I, iv, 25; DQ I, 52 The most agreeable madman who ever lived! II, iv, 13; DQ II, 55

Don Quixote

The novel’s tragicomic hero. Don Quixote’s main quest in life is to revive knight-errantry in a world devoid of chivalric virtues and values. He believes only what he chooses to believe and sees the world very differently from most people. Honest, dignified, proud, and idealistic, he wants to save the world. As intelligent as he is mad, Don Quixote starts out as an absurd and isolated figure and ends up as a pitiable and lovable old man whose strength and wisdom have failed him.

Most Famous Quote by Quixote

“When equity can, and ought to take place, inflict not the whole rigour of the law upon the delinquent; for, severity is not more respected than compassion, in the character of a judge.”

Quixote gives Sancho this piece of advice before Sancho leaves to govern his island. With this advice, his sense of morality shows through. Although Quixote wants to protect oppressed or injured people, he has no desire to seek revenge on those who harm others, but let them be judged by God in the end.

Another Famous Quote by Quixote

“You blockhead, cried Don Quixote, incensed, it neither concerns, nor belongs to knights-errant, to examine whether the afflicted, the enslaved and oppressed, whom they meet on the highway, are reduced to these wretched circumstances by their crimes, or their misfortunes; our business is only to assist them in their distress, having an eye to their sufferings, and not to their demerits.”

Quixote chastises Sancho after Sancho claims he warned Don Quixote about what might happen if he set the slaves free. Earlier, these slaves, after being freed by Quixote, mugged him. Upset and offended by Sancho’s insinuation, Don Quixote explains that they have no right to judge anyone in dire circumstances, but only to help them. Don Quixote aims to be morally virtuous, but his attempts sometimes backfire.

Originally posted 2019-12-26 15:03:29.

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Originally posted 2020-02-20 23:20:46.